With the rapid growth of software in so many verticals and categories, selecting and integrating the right solution can be a daunting task. It takes time and involves bringing various stakeholders on the same page, which can lead to unexpected surprises during the software evaluation journey. Thus, you should have a robust process in place to ensure success.

Simplify the process of software evaluation by learning how to create systems such as software Evaluation checklists and build best practices that guarantee success in your software adoption process.

What is software evaluation?

Software evaluation is a process of determining the quality and utility of software solutions for your business to solve specific problems. The objective of exercising this process is to decide whether to consider new software or prune existing dysfunctional and unused software. This allows you to optimize your costs by discarding software with low business value and adopting new solutions that add value to your business. 

The evaluation process requires identifying technical capabilities and evaluating the usability of individual products. Steps involved in evaluating software include:

  • Reviewing the proposal
  • Forming a software evaluation team
  • Creating an assessment plan
  • Defining what is requested and what is needed

Why does an organization need to evaluate software?

Organizations evaluate software to avoid common software selection mistakes that can lead to costly consequences such as switching vendors or losing customers, ensuring they get good investment returns.

Evaluating software entails assessing various aspects, such as its features, functionality, usability, reliability, security, performance, scalability, maintainability and cost-effectiveness. 

Getting every department on the same page is an arduous task and it takes a lot of time and internal processes to come to a consensus while hashing out requirements by each team and creating a plan. 

Who should be involved in a software evaluation?

The software evaluation process involves many people, each with their own opinions, biases and expectations. Therefore, involving different stakeholders is crucial before you jump-start your plan:

  1. Start with end users

They are the ones who will be using the software. Some of them might use it more exhaustively and some arbitrarily. Gathering viewpoints from both groups can give you invaluable insights and help ensure that the software is intuitive, user-friendly and meets their needs.

  1. Your department heads come next

Department heads from marketing, sales, accounting, finance and operations understand the nuances of the end users as they represent them. Their input on how the software can support the goals and objectives of their department can help identify any potential conflicts or issues that may arise from using the software.

  1. IT and security team for compliance

Their technical expertise helps evaluate various aspects of the software, such as its compatibility with existing systems and its security features. They can also help ensure that the software meets the organization’s IT and security standards.

  1. External stakeholders as partners

They are the partners that your business integrates with as part of your overall supply chain. They can provide crucial insights into how the software can support efficient and effective collaboration and integration.

  1. The final say of your decision-maker

A budget approver and decision-maker closes the deal after analyzing the software requirement of your tool. They are responsible for making a well-informed and impartial decision that takes into account the needs and concerns of all relevant stakeholders.

Considering the perspectives of different stakeholders can help you make a well-informed final decision that considers the needs and concerns of all relevant parties. This can help prevent costly mistakes and ensure that the chosen software fits the organization well.

What does a software evaluation process look like?

A software evaluation process is critical for organizations looking to invest in dependable, secure and efficient software. Evaluating want versus need is the first step in that direction. You must be able to follow below steps before making a purchase decision:

  1. Research: Understand why you need a software solution and what gaps it will fill in your existing business. Shortlist the relevant software that needs evaluation.
  1. Collaborate: Create a team of your stakeholders to collaborate on the research.  
  1. Evaluate TOC: After shortlisting relevant tools, evaluate their total cost of ownership (TCO). Gartner defines TCO for IT as the cost of hardware and software acquisition, management and support, communications, end-user expenses and the opportunity cost of downtime, training and other productivity losses.
  1. Define and materialize: Create a score sheet containing business problems and software solutions. Rank the software based on prioritizing the most pressing need and corresponding software.
  1. Justify your business case: Build a realistic business problem and defend it with genuine, promising returns to ensure you get the go-ahead.
  1. Watch vendor demos: Whether you want to add a feature in your existing software or make a purchase, develop a comprehensive demo script that showcases what you want to see.
  1. Ensure security: Have your IT and security team audit the software to ensure business security standards compliance.
  1. Negotiate strategies: Compare the pricing and contracts of the finalist vendor and develop effective negotiation strategies to reach a fair agreement between you and the vendor. 
  2. Implementation: Run the final review and build a foundation to implement the plan. 

"Software Bill of Materials is an essential tool in your security and compliance toolbox. They help continuously verify software integrity and alert stakeholders to security vulnerabilities and policy violations.” – Gartner

9 tips to create an effective software evaluation plan  

  1. Utilize surveys to build a requirement set

Strengthen your business case using a survey or scorecard to evaluate your current systems. This will give you solid insights into what your current system is lacking and which part of the system needs to be fixed or removed.

  1. Shortlist your vendors and pick a lasting partnership 

Request for proposal, information or quotation is an efficient way to poll your vendors and shortlist them based on score cards. The analysis aims to make sense of vendor data to justify a business case for moving forward, pausing or canceling the software selection. 

The data is synthesized to create a business justification report that evaluates proposed vendor solutions against the company profile, requirements and budget.  

  1. Compatibility with your organization’s existing tools

Compatibility with your organization’s current tools is an important aspect of the software evaluation process. It’s important to ensure that the software you’re considering is compatible with your organization’s current tools and systems. There’s no point in getting software that won’t work with your company’s systems and integrations.


“…businesses need to better leverage their existing software engineering talent if they want to move faster, build new products and tap into new and emerging trends.” Stripe Developer Coefficient Report

  1. Ask your vendors for information on support

Many vendors train teams on how to use their solutions while onboarding. You may ask them about their plans related to new technologies and concepts to understand how effective their support team is in resolving issues and communicating it to you.

  1. Consider the implementation costs

Implementing any software will come with some level of cost. Discuss the implementation time and costs with the IT team and consider potential productivity lost during the initial learning period for employees. For example, the IFRS Interpretations Committee’s March 2021 agenda decision clarifies how to perform this analysis for implementation costs incurred in a cloud service contract.

  1. Involve multiple departments 

While you may be responsible for evaluating the software, involve multiple departments when possible. For example, when evaluating software vendors, it is important to have a measured, holistic and prudent approach that weighs all possible factors while prioritizing long-term ROI. This can help businesses navigate the software selection labyrinth.

  1. Demo products when possible 

If software providers offer a demo period, be sure to use it to try out the solution.

  1. Ask about onboarding 

Ask vendors what their onboarding process looks like. For example, companies like Slack provide great examples of simple progressive user onboarding that guides users through every offered function.

  1. Test for quality assurance 

Before fully implementing a new software solution, test it thoroughly. This means going through the solution step-by-step to learn how it works and fits with what you have in place. This can help identify any potential issues or areas for improvement before rolling out the software to your entire team.

A software assessment checklist to evaluate your software requirement 

Since software categories vary, you can use this software assessment checklist as a template and guide to create your own checklist and customize it by adding more elements to it:

1. Does the software support the objectives and needs of the business? 

This item checks if the software aligns with the business' holistic goals and objectives. Ensure that the software supports the needs of the business to maximize its benefits. 

2. Is the solution well documented? 

This item checks if the software has proper documentation, such as user manuals, guides and technical specifications. Good documentation helps users understand how to use the software and troubleshoot any issues that may arise. It also enables IT staff to maintain and support the software.

3. Does the software meet standards and goals? 

Mark it to check if the software meets industry standards and best practices. Ensure that the software adheres to relevant standards to ensure its quality, reliability and security. 

4. Will the software fill a need that an existing solution doesn’t? 

This item checks if the software addresses a need or problem that is not currently being met by existing solutions. The software should provide new functionality or improve existing solutions to justify its adoption. 

5. Does the software fit into your budget? 

This item checks if the cost of the software fits within the business's budget. The cost of the software should be reasonable and provide a good return on investment. Are you considering both upfront and ongoing costs when evaluating the cost of the software?

6. Do you need to integrate new hardware to run the solution? 

This item checks if new hardware is required to run the software. If new hardware is required, consider the cost and feasibility of obtaining it. The hardware should be compatible with the software and provide adequate performance.

7. Has IT been in the loop? 

Mark it to check if IT staff have been involved in evaluating and selecting the software. IT staff should be involved in assessing technical aspects of the software, such as compatibility, security and support requirements. Their input can help ensure that the software fits the business's technical infrastructure well.

8. Have you collaborated with all stakeholders on choosing the software? 

This item checks if all relevant stakeholders have been involved in evaluating and selecting the software. Stakeholders may include management, employees, customers and suppliers. Their input can help ensure that the software meets their needs and expectations.

9. Is training provided? 

Training can help users learn how to use the software effectively and efficiently. It can also help reduce errors and improve productivity.

10. Is support available for integration?  

Mark it to check if support is available for integrating the software with existing systems and processes. Support can ensure a smooth transition to using the new software. It can also help resolve any issues that may arise during integration.

11. Do you have to pay for support? 

This item checks if there are additional costs for support services, such as technical support or customer service. If support services are not included in the cost of the software, consider their cost when evaluating the total cost of ownership of the software.

12. Will the existing workflow need to change? 

If changes are required in the existing workflow, consider their impact on productivity and efficiency. The new workflows should be designed to maximize the benefits of using the new software.

13. Does the software meet legal requirements? 

This item checks if the software meets relevant legal requirements, such as data protection laws or industry-specific regulations. Ensure that using the software does not expose your business to legal risks or penalties.

14. Can solutions scale with business growth? 

This item checks if a solution can scale with your business growth by handling more data or users without compromising performance or reliability. A solution should be able to grow with your business so you don't have to switch solutions as your business grows.

15. Has it been thoroughly tested by an internal team? 

This item checks whether an internal team has thoroughly tested this solution before implementation. Thorough testing helps identify any potential issues before implementation so they can be addressed beforehand.

16. Does the solution have a demo try? 

This item checks whether there's a demo version available for you to try before committing or signing a contract. A demo version allows you to test out features before making a decision on whether this solution fits your needs.

17. Have all stakeholders approved this solution for use in your business? 

Mark it to check whether all stakeholders have approved this solution for use in your business. Stakeholder approval ensures everyone is on board with this decision which helps with implementation.

You can use this software evaluation template to evaluate your software by filling in "Yes" or "No" for each checklist item. 

Use Spendflo to fuel your software assessment process and get guaranteed ROI

SaaS is a crucial technology for business success, accounting for 70% of total company software use. It offers a cost-effective solution by enabling companies to use a pay-as-you-go model. SaaS solves the software evaluation process by offering:

  • Reasonable costs
  • Compatibility with operating systems
  • Easy integrations
  • Quick adoption
  • Scalability

Spendflo is a leading SaaS buying and procurement platform that helps businesses save time and money on their SaaS contracts. You can create your SaaS evaluation checklist with Spendflo as they offer centralized contracts, visibility into spending, renewals handling and guaranteed savings on software expenditure. Using a SaaS checklist with Spendflo can help you manage your SaaS contracts and reporting better, making it seamless to get the best deals on your SaaS software. 

By negotiating with each SaaS vendor, you can save up to 30% on your SaaS stack. The platform offers complete visibility while helping businesses evaluate, right-size and optimize their SaaS contracts.

Wondering how Spendflo can help your business save money on SaaS contracts? Book a free saving analysis today.

Ajay Ramamoorthy
Karthikeyan Manivannan

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